Active Beta and the Carry Trade

Previously we have written about our active-beta strategies and how we are applying them to equities and fixed income. We also mentioned how we were working on a solution to systematically take advantage of the carry trade. After a lot of research we have finally devised an acceptable method to capture returns while at the same time minimizing drawdowns.

In the initial stages of research we did a lot of search and came across a few good and several bad ideas. One of the most insightful things we read came from Macro Man . He wrote where he uses a volatility filter to tell him when it is a good time to be involved in the G-10 carry trade. After further research we found it to be true that the best time for the carry trade is when things are fairly stable and volatility is low or declining and the worst time is when it is high or rising. This of course makes sense since the majority of this strategy revolves around trying to

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capture interest rate differentials from high yielding currencies versus the low yielding currencies. When excessive volatility comes into the market many participants will start to unwind their leveraged positions and in so doing they can wipe out a lot of gains from the carry. Using a volatility filter helps to sort out the high, moderate, and low risk times. For the most part we want to be involved in the moderate and low risk times and step aside in the high risk times.

Of course volatility is not the only risk to the carry trade. Anytime a central bank decides to change rates the carry will change and depending on what they do you can make or lose money. Also if a few large market participants quickly unwind positions you can get hit before the filter is triggered. What we have attempted to do is to simply eliminate a regularly occurring risk and improve our risk-adjusted returns by avoiding that risk.

Some investors new to currency trading might be wondering what is the carry trade? It is when you go long a high yielding currency and go short a low yielding currency. The G-10 carry trade is simply to go long the three highest yielders and go short the three lowest yielding

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currencies. Right now for instance you would be long the New Zealand Loonie, Australian Dollar, and the Norwegian Krone. You would go long these against the Japanese Yen, US Dollar, and Canadian Dollar. In a currency account you can put these on and then decide how much leverage you want to use. If you are new to currency trading and/or are constrained in your trading instruments you can just buy the DBV-Deutsche Bank G10 Currency Harvest ETF. It does exactly this strategy and applies 2X leverage. Since trades ETF’s we use the DBV to take advantage of the carry trade.

Happy Trading,

The Macro Trader

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